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28th May 2006: Angelina Jolie Gives Birth to baby "Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt"
LOS ANGELES -- In what was arguably the most anticipated delivery in recent entertainment history, Angelina Jolie gave birth to Brad Pitt's daughter Saturday in Africa, Pitt's publicist announced Saturday night.

"The night of May 27, 2006, in Namibia, Africa, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt welcomed their daughter Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. No further information is being given," publicist Cindy Guagenti said in a statement.

No photographs were being released, she added.

The baby's arrival had been the subject of intense media speculation, compelling the superstar couple to decamp to Africa for privacy.

The actors were linked romantically shortly after appearing together in the 2005 movie "Mr. and Mrs. Smith."

Jolie, 30, is a frequent visitor to Africa and serves as goodwill ambassador for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

She has two adopted children: toddler Zahara, from Ethiopia, and 4-year-old Maddox, from Cambodia.

Both children had their surnames legally changed to Jolie-Pitt after Pitt announced his intentions to co-adopt the children. Pitt and Jolie are not married. He and actress Jennifer Aniston divorced last fall.

Jolie, who won an Oscar for her supporting role in 1999's "Girl, Interrupted," is divorced from Billy Bob Thornton and Jonny Lee Miller.

The government of Namibia went to extraordinary lengths to try to protect Pitt and Jolie from the media as the couple awaited the birth of their child in seclusion at a luxury resort on the Namibian coast.

The Namibian Embassy in Pretoria told journalists seeking visas that they had to have permission from Pitt and Jolie in writing before they would be allowed into the country.

The government, which has seen its profile as a tourist destination increased by the celebrity visit, arrested photographers, confiscated film, set up large green barriers on the beach to shield the couple and their children, ringed the hotel with heavy security and threatened to expel any journalist trying to cover the birth without the parents' permission.

"This lady is expecting," Namibian Prime Minister Nahas Angula told South Africa's Sunday Times last month. "You guys are harassing her. Why don't you allow her some privacy? Harassment is not allowed in Namibia."

Interest escalated Tuesday when Pitt sent an e-mail to the Cannes Film Festival, saying he was unable to attend because of the baby's "imminent arrival."

Before Pitt and Jolie took up residence in Namibia, the government had never required that journalists get permission from private citizens -- foreign or otherwise -- to obtain a visa.

Darryn Lyons, chairman of Big Pictures, which runs the Web site Mr. Paparazzi.com, said earlier this week he had a team in Namibia, but that none of his photographers had been arrested. He added someone -- perhaps even the midwife -- with a small camera or one built into a mobile phone stood to make a lot of money.

"You could probably buy Namibia with that picture," he said, estimating the first picture of Pitt and Jolie's baby would be worth $5 million.

18th November 2004: Greatest stories ever sold
A CYBER-BUSINESSMAN yesterday told how he helped recreate an ancient library for Angelina Jolie's latest Hollywood blockbuster.

Kevin Roxburgh, who runs Saltney-based Egyptian Dreams, near Chester, supplied 2 1/2 tonnes of papyrus for epic movie Alexander the Great. Oliver Stone produced the film, which also stars Sir Anthony Hopkins and Colin Farrell. The sandals and swords epic, just released in America, is expected to reach British screens in January.

Kevin, married to wife Sabine with three step-daughters, was asked by London's Pinewood film studios to produce authentic-looking Egyptian paper.

Kevin said: "It was unbelievable. The props manager working on the film had been trawling the world looking for someone who could supply, of all things, blank sheets of papyrus.

"It was the very first paper manufactured by mankind, made from reeds growing at the side of the River Nile." "He said he needed 200 sheets and could I send him some samples." "A couple of weeks went by and I thought nothing was going to happen. Then they telephoned with an order for 40,000 sheets. Because of my contacts, I managed to source a supplier who could still produce reed paper in this ancient way and meet their demand."

Kevin's Egyptian-made paper features in scenes set in the Great Library of Alexandria. It was founded by Alexander's general Ptolemy II who ruled Egypt in the third century BC.

The library was said to hold thousands of scrolls and was often frequented by Aristotle, but was destroyed by a fire during an attack on the city by Julius Caesar in 47 BC. The film tells the story of Alexander, the Macedonian king who conquered the then known world before his death aged just 33.

Kevin is looking forward to seeing the film. The 36-year-old said: "I am just hoping to get an invite to the opening night. Perhaps they will need some more papyrus to put the invites on.

Kevin set up his Flintshire internet business, run from his home on Vyrnwy Road, in February last year. The former IT specialist and website developer got fed up with his career and decided a new direction was needed, based on his passion for Egyptology.
Source: Daily Post

17th November 2004: Alexander Premiers in Los Angeles
The cast of the epic Alexander gathered for the movie's premiere in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie and Val Kilmer turned out to support the film directed by Oliver Stone. The film tells the tale of Alexander the Great, who conquered almost all of the known world by the age of 25 and was dead by 33. Farrell plays the military leader while Jolie plays his mother, despite being just a year older than the Irish actor.

Talking about his character, Farrell said: "He was everything. He was a contradiction in terms. You know, he was soft, he was strong, he was gentle, he was ferocious, he was a complete contradiction as a man."

Val Kilmer reunited with The Doors director Stone for the film, in which he plays Alexander's father Philip. "We had a great time working together 10 years ago -- it's 10 years already - in The Doors," said Kilmer. "I'm so proud of Colin Farrell, this is his best role so far and the whole cast is amazing."

Angelina Jolie plays Colin Farrell's mother in the film. "And this was actually more fun to make for me because I didn't have the pressure of playing the lead and all those responsibilities, which are awesome.

Preparation for the film was rigorous, with many of the actors undergoing intense physical training to get into shape to play members of the invading armies.

Farrell said: "It was tough. It was a hard shoot physically and emotionally. All the boys involved put themselves on the line, and it was a blast."

Alexander cost a reported $150m (£80m) to produce and follows on the heels of Troy, the epic movie starring Brad Pitt as the Greek warrior based on Homer's The Iliad.

1st November 2004: What makes a leader?
It is perhaps the most sought-after quality at the moment — and the most elusive — one that requires a tightrope walk between single-mindedness and flexibility, hope and realism, teamwork and the willingness to go it alone. The question of what makes a leader confronts us, and not just because we will head to the polls Tuesday to choose between two very different kinds of leadership — President George W. Bush's decisive, intuitive style and Sen. John Kerry's measured, analytical approach. In recent years, the Enron debacle, the sex-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church and the horrors of Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison have led us to wonder just how much room there is at the top for competence, courage and compassion.

Not so coincidentally, culture has rushed in to fill the void with visionaries from yesteryear — exhibits on George Washington and Alexander Hamilton at Manhattan's Metropolitan Museum of Art and New-York Historical Society respectively; new biographies of Washington and Napoleon nemesis Lord Horatio Nelson.

Meanwhile, reality TV is mining the executive suite for weekly series. On Nov. 9, Fox launches "The Rebel Billionaire," with Virgin companies founder Richard Branson, to counter NBC phenom "The Apprentice," Donald Trump's master class in management.

We won't, however, hit the leadership mother lode until Nov. 24 when Oliver Stone releases "Alexander," with Colin Farrell as the Macedonian king whose conquest of the Persian Empire disseminated Greek culture in the East and changed the face of Western civilization. He was also arguably the finest field commander the world has ever seen.

"We've been in a crisis of leadership for some time now," says Partha Bose, author of "Alexander the Great's Art of Strategy" (Gotham Books). "This is why Alexander resonates today."

The fog of war..

Ask virtually any Alexander historian what made him a great leader, and they will answer you the same way: "He led from the front. He never asked his men to do anything he wouldn't do himself."

The examples from a legendary life (356-323 B.C.) are legion: Alexander always seemed to be the first to charge up some riverbank or scale a high wall. Laura Foreman, author of the new "Alexander the Conqueror" (Da Capo Press), likes to tell the story of Alexander's march in 325 B.C. across the grueling Makran Desert (in present-day Pakistan), something no one had ever accomplished before. At one point, some of Alexander's men found a little water and brought it to their king so he could slake his thirst.

Instead, a grateful Alexander poured it into the searing sand: If they could not drink, neither would he. Heartened, the army continued its march, emerging from the desert after two months — but not without a terrible loss of life.

Why did he risk this challenge, and the welfare of his men? The leader walks a fine line between fortitude and foolhardiness. And what is heroic in one age, appears merely reckless in the next.

Indeed, observers say, it is not that we lack leaders with the daring and skills of Alexander today, but that the landscape of leadership has shifted — from the hands-on autocracy of an Alexander to high-tech democracy, in which those at the top are often at a remove, and a disadvantage.

"When we think of leaders in battles today, we think of them at command centers way back behind the front lines," says Jim Lindsay, producer and director of The History Channel's "Alexander the Great" (8 p.m. Nov. 7). "Wars are now fought in different ways. For all practical purposes, there are no clear rules anymore. How do you advise soldiers how to recognize the enemy when it could be an 18-year-old girl with explosives strapped to her?...The battlefield has gotten foggy."

The vision thing...

But just because the rules of engagement have changed on the battlefield and in the boardroom — compounded by increasingly intricate layers of technology and bureaucracy — doesn't absent the leader from accountability.

"It probably does make it more difficult," says Donald Trump of leading in a shifting landscape. "I am fortunate to have a solid core group working for me, as I am very much involved in all my businesses. This takes time and requires patience, but it's worth it. Everyone reports to me, and no one can remain 'uninvolved' or once-removed."

Nor do the changing rules of engagement mean that we can't learn from history, observers say. And the lesson of history is that there is no leader without first a dream, an idea that is either a response to a current crisis or a plan for the future. Think of Elizabeth I, forged in religious strife, presiding over England's golden age; Gandhi, choosing the nonviolent path to India's independence; Martin Luther King Jr. championing the content of a person's character as the criterion for acceptance.

"You have to have confidence in your abilities, your instincts, your vision," says Trump, who named the most luxurious suite in the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City after Alexander the Great.

In an age when myths were real and kings could become gods, Alexander envisioned himself as the new Achilles, striking out for the East once more but this time for a prize greater than Troy — the Persian Empire and beyond.

But it's not enough to have a dream. You must persuade others to share it.

"Great leaders instill great loyalty," Trump says.

"That was something that impressed me from the get-go," filmmaker Lindsay says of Alexander, "how one guy could get 40,000 other guys to follow him for 12 years for 20,000 miles. Talk about charisma."

The common touch...

Alexander had more than charisma. There was the well-trained Macedonian army's appetite for glory and treasure; the Greeks' fear of Persian aggression and desire to avenge past atrocities; his youth, beauty and charm, crystallized into an iconic image. And something else.

"What makes Alexander a great leader is the connections," author Bose says. "He could be seen hanging out with his generals, planning pitch battles or visiting with his troops. He would call out his men by name and remind them of battles in which they had fought well."

"He also expended resources on the army. He wasn't cheap," says historian William M. Murray, one of the on-camera experts in The History Channel's "Alexander the Great." "The army was well-paid....The men went back home rich, which is something we know from their tombs."

Alexander's bond with his men would be echoed at the turn of the 19th century by British admiral Horatio Nelson, says author Foreman, who co-wrote "Napoleon's Lost Fleet: Bonaparte, Nelson, and the Battle of the Nile." "The basics of their management style were so similar: Without people under you, you're going nowhere."

This is in sharp contrast, she says, to some of today's managers, who are more interested in kissing up to their employers than promoting their employees.

The true leader, observers say, is secure enough to cultivate the talents of others.

"I try to hire people who are smarter than I am, because if they do a great job, it will reflect on me," says author Bose, a former North White Plains resident who serves as marketing director at the law firm of Allen & Overy in London.

Few leaders absorbed this lesson better than George Washington, who mentored such brilliant young officers as Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette and who combined such diverse luminaries as Hamilton, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in his administration.

Alexander, too, had "excellent sub-officers, five or six generals who would later emerge as kings," historian Murray says. And he conferred real power on them. But he was also something of a control freak, scouting locales, knowing what goods and equipment were needed, planning battles down to the minutiae and always keeping plan B at the ready. The leader, Murray says, must strike the balance between Ronald Reagan's delegation of authority and Jimmy Carter's mastery of detail.

Buoyed on a wire...

Perhaps the toughest balancing act of all, however, is the one between concern for others and the need to remain somewhat aloof. You can see this struggle in the Met's insightful "Gilbert Stuart" show, as the determined face of Washington gives nothing away.

Historian Robin Lane Fox, adviser on the film "Alexander," says he spent time discussing the isolation of leadership with star Farrell, who displayed what he calls "real Alexander style" on the set — commanding and fearless: "He said to me, 'You can have plenty of friends, but when you're set apart, you can be lonely.'"

The movie star intuits what the leader soon learns — that when you belong to everyone, you risk belonging to no one.

And yet, the leader can't afford to lose touch with his people and his origins, which many historians say happened to Alexander as he became virtually omnipotent, farther removed from the Macedon of his youth, more inured in his quest for the far horizon, and more susceptible to the loss of those who had known and loved him best.

Still, against all odds and the possibility of plummeting into despair, the leader dances on the wire, buoyed by something that has sustained leaders from the beginning.

It is the quality that accompanied Alexander on his quest. Once when he gave away much of his booty, one of his men asked him what he would be left with.

He replied simply, "My hopes."
Source: TheJournalNews.com

28th October 2004: Luhrmann's Alexander is defeated
Baz Luhrmann's keenly anticipated "Alexander The Great" film is now officially dead, according to his Australian friend Nicole Kidman, who was supposed to co-star in it as Olympias.

"No!" Kidman says when asked if Luhrmann was going to go ahead with the much-delayed project, which was going to rival Oliver Stone's Alexander, due next month. In Stone's film, Angelina Jolie plays Olympias to Colin Farrell's Alexander.

"I was too!" Kidman says when told that viewers were eager to compare the two films and that many were more intrigued by the possibilities of Luhrmann's vision.

Luhrmann, who used Kidman as his femme fatale in Moulin Rouge, last worked with her on a spectacular, multimillionaire Chanel ad in which she plays herself, a movie star escaping media hordes in a Moulin Rouge-like fantasy setting.
Thanks to Tom for the heads up.

18th October 2004: Colin Farrell discusses playing Alexander
"I just felt very lonely and very sad," says Farrell of taking on the character. "That [Alexander] never got to a place of comfort, a place of joy, a place where he ever felt like he was achieving enough. He was never surrounded by the love that he really wanted, even though he was lauded and applauded and deified. He may have worn it on the outside, but he never felt it on the inside."

Director Oliver Stone on casting Farrell as Alexander: "I was looking for a young god, who could act .... An Alexander who could walk into the room and look in the eyes of any man, and he could move them to be beyond themselves." He continues, "It's a combination of masculinity and, at the same time, beauty and femininity. It's a beautiful balance if you can pull it off."

Co-star Angelina Jolie on how she thinks the role helped Farrell: "[the tough role] helped him become more of a man. I know it was hard, the hours were hard, and the physical labor was hard, and he was allowing all his demons to come through ... but I was kind of secretly sitting in the corner, excited, happy for his pain, knowing that it would make him grow."
Source: GQ Magazine

5th October 2004: Warner Bros. denies delaying Alexander over gay scenes
After speculation that Warner Bros. were pushing back the release date of Alexander because studio executives were skittish over gay love scenes in the film between Colin Farrell (as bisexual conqueror Alexander the Great) and Francisco Bosch (who plays Persian eunuch Bagoas, thought by many historians to have been Alexander's lover), Warner Bros. president of production Jeff Robinov wrote in an e-mail to one reporter: "That is completely untrue. Warner Bros. Pictures is proud of Alexander and thinks it is an exceptional piece of filmmaking. We've moved the release date, as we said earlier, to position it better for Academy consideration. We also want to allow ourselves more time to complete some of its ambitious visual effects.... Any speculation that the studio is trying to cut scenes from Alexander based on their depiction of the sexual relationships of the lead character is false and does not accurately represent the content of the film, which portrays Alexander the Great as heroic and a man of his time and culture."

5th October 2004: How did Alexander Die?
He conquered most of the known world and created the biggest empire in ancient history. Yet Alexander the Great's sudden death at the age of 32 has been a mystery for centuries. Some experts say he died of malaria, others suggest a bout of typhoid caused by tainted food, or chronic liver poisoning brought on by his bacchanalia.But the latest theory suggests he was the victim of a plot by his wife, Roxane. She is said to have poisoned him with what was then a little-known toxin taken from the strychnine plant. The disclosure will intrigue followers of a historical whodunnit which has fascinated scholars down the ages. It may also prompt more interest in Alexander, who is making something of a comeback in the form of two new Hollywood films. Oliver Stone's movie Alexander the Great, starring Colin Farrell and Sir Anthony Hopkins, is released next month. Another blockbuster - with the same title - by Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is expected in 2006.

The jealous wife theory is being propounded by Graham Phillips, who believes Alexander was murdered by Roxane in revenge for taking another wife or perhaps flaunting his homosexual lover, Hephaestion, who also died in mysterious circumstances. He believes Hephaestion and Alexander suffered the classic symptoms of strychnine poisoning. Roxane was one of the few people who could have known about the deadly derivative of the strychnine plant Strychnos nux vomica.

What little is known about Alexander's death starts in Babylon, cultural capital of the ancient world, with a funeral feast held in May in 323BC in honour of the late Hephaestion. Roman historians suggest Alexander was gripped by pain before collapsing. "The initial symptoms were agitation, tremors, aching or stiffness in the neck, followed by a sudden, sharp pain in the area of the stomach," Phillips says in his new book Alexander the Great: Murder in Babylon. "He then collapsed and suffered excruciating agony wherever he was touched. Alexander also suffered from an intense thirst, fever and delirium, and, throughout the night, he experienced convulsions and hallucinations. In the final stages he could not talk. Ultimately, his breathing became difficult and he fell into a coma and died.

Toxicologists at the University of California told Phillips the symptoms fitted those of poisoning by strychnine. The toxin came from a plant that at the time grew only in the Indus valley, where Alexander had visited two years earlier with Roxane, he said.

Professor Robin Lane-Fox of Oxford University, who acted as the history consultant for Stone, is sceptical of claims of Roxane's guilt. "Alexander had many old wounds, he travelled in marshes riddled with malaria, he drank all night. He simply might have had a seizure."
Source: The New Zealand Herald

1st October 2004: New Trailer
We've all seen the movie trailers floating around the Internet but probably the best to date has appeared on the Coming Soon website. View it here: http://comingsoon.net/news/topnews.php?id=6582

22nd September 2004: Release Date Changed?
Warner Bros. has pushed the opening of its Oliver Stone-directed "Alexander" from Nov. 5 to Nov. 24, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The move was confirmed by Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. Pictures, which is releasing the film in the U.S. for Intermedia Films. When Oliver Stone showed up at the San Sebastian Film Festival days ago to unspool his docu "Looking for Fidel," the director told Daily Variety he was working 100 hours a week editing "Alexander." Speculation was that the date switch was partly to give Stone extra time to lock his film, which features several sweeping battle scenes.

Fellman said the studio had a variety of reasons for the date switch, but insisted Stone would have had the film ready for the original date. More pressing reasons for the switch, he said, was the fear it would be difficult to gain marketing momentum amidst a blizzard of final campaign ads before the Nov. 2 presidential election. Another consideration was a desire by WB to put the film and performances by Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins and Val Kilmer, in closer proximity to other Oscar contenders. "We took a good look at the movie in rough form, and if it's not the best film he's ever directed, it's close," Fellman said. "It has a lot of Academy potential that will be enhanced by the change in timing, and we will also have the ability to focus better on an adult audience. Our advertising and publicity departments would have had to compete against the elections, and you don't want to lose to the presidential candidates." Fellman said he was confident Stone will stay close to schedule and deliver the film with enough time to properly screen it for critics. That would have been a closer call with the Nov. 5 date.

The film had been expected to go head-to-head with Pixar's "The Incredibles," and Fellman didn't regret avoiding that battle. He noted that while the G-rated film would seem to pose little competition for an R-rated film, Pixar offerings traditionally dominate their opening weekends, with adults taking their kids to the theater. "Alexander" now will square off against the Fox drama "Flight of the Phoenix," the Revolution comedy "Christmas with the Kranks" and the national rollout for Miramax's "Finding Neverland." Fellman predicted other pieces on the chessboard might move as a result of the date switch for "Alexander," an epic that will clock in at around two hours and 45 minutes and likely will bow on about 2,500 screens. "Thanksgiving is traditionally a competitive period, but we've given our marketing department a chance to be in the trenches longer and work harder on the picture," Fellman said. "We'll be ready to play in the big game." The move will affect the overseas openings of "Alexander" in several territories, including Germany and Latin America. Plans to open in those countries in mid-November will be pushed back, since WB has always been guaranteed first crack in the U.S.

3rd September 2004: Parsis up in arms against Oliver Stone film
MUMBAI: Hollywood director Oliver Stone's forthcoming movie, Alexander , based on the life of the 4th century BC Macedonian king, has evoked protests from an unusual quarter -the minuscule Zoroastrian diaspora. Still from Oliver Stone's forthcoming film Alexander
The growing criticism against the use of the Zoroastrian holy symbol called the ' Farohar ' (a winged figure) in the movie's promos being aired in the US is slowly percolating down to Mumbai, where the majority of the Parsis is based.

According to Mumbai-based Firuza Punthakee Mistree, co-author of the book Zoroastrian Tapestry, unlike the western world, the Parsis know Alexander as the accursed because he had murdered the community's priests, destroyed fire temples and burnt down Persepolis, the ancient capital of the Persian empire.

Asked Sam Billimoria, a California resident, "How would Christians react if Genghis Khan or Atilla the Hun was shown with the holy cross as the backdrop? From what I have seen from the promo, Alexander's name on the Farohar symbol is very insulting to the whole Zoroastrian community. I consider him an an exterminator akin to Hitler. History condemns Hitler, yet glorifies Alexander."

Community members based in the US said the man spearheading the protest was none other than music maestro Zubin Mehta, a Parsi himself. On August 28, Mehta was a guest of honour at a function organised by the Zoroastrian Association of California (ZAC) in the city of Irvine, which is in the greater Los Angeles area. It was here that the world-famous conductor informed the audience about the "misleading" use of the Farohar symbol.

According to ZAC member Maneck Bhujwala, who was present in the gathering, Mehta said that he had called Oliver Stone (who knows him) and left a message for him and others connected with the movie to remove the symbol immediately. "He urged all of us to follow up on this and organise a huge protest about it," said Bhujwala in an e-mail to Times News Network.

Dhun Dalal, another ZAC member, said, "Zubin had called me to tell me that he had seen the Farohar symbol behind the name Alexander in the advertisement for the movie. At that time, I had not seen the ad. He asked me if there was someone from our community who would write a letter protesting this ad."

4th August 2004: Great Expectations - Oliver stone vanquishes the competition, emerging on the boxoffice battlefield with 'Alexander'
It's late at night in Paris, early in July -- but as most frenchmen are winding down for their annual summer break, France's newest citizen, Oliver Stone, is maintaining a breakneck pace in the editing room, struggling to ready his $150 million historical epic "Alexander" for a Nov. 5 U.S. release through Warner Bros. Pictures. This is the final march in a battle Stone has waged for more than a decade, vanquishing competing projects, overcoming budgetary hurdles and conquering logistical concerns including real war. "I'd say I'm pretty happy we got through it alive," says an exhausted Stone, who spends his days shuttling on the Chunnel train between Paris and London. "We're halfway through the hard-editing process, right in the middle, and everything is coming together," he adds, sounding satisfied -- and relieved.
Visit www.hollywoodreporter.com for the full article

25th July 2004: Alexander Music Preview
Sony Classical has just released a web-site for Vangelis' upcoming
soundtrack for Oliver Stone's "Alexander". The site, for now, only displays
some graphics and allows you to join a mailing list, but the feature that will
get everyone excited is the first glimbse of Vangelis' new music, which can
be listened to in 3 different streaming formats.
The site is at www.alexandersoundtrack.com

23rd July 2004: Colin Farrell talks about Alexander
Farrell says that the Oliver Stone-directed epic, will present the legendary Alexander the Great in a fair light, including his own bisexuality. "You know he's bi-sexual and that's all you really even need to know. However, you don't even need to know that because there was no term for sexuality back then in respect to categorizing it as homosexuality, bisexuality, or heterosexuality. It was a time when men and men laid together and shared knowledge and women primarily had babies. But later on in life, as we got more technologically and sociologically adept, we started to put titles on everything. We decided for the few what was right or wrong or the few decided for the multitude what was right or wrong."

Farrell says that in Alexander, his private life will certainly be out there, however, "It's hard to have a private life when you're a king, but his personal life, for sure, is touched on, but not in a way that highlights it," Farrell explains. "I'll tell you one thing, anything that was needed for Oliver to tell a story the way that he intended it to be told is not taken out as a result of, again, appeasing the people or being afraid of what people won't be able to handle."

Farrell says that working on Alexander was his toughest work experience to date. "You're playing Alexander, which was just a life with so much loss, ambition, destiny, so many questions and very few answers. It was physically, emotionally, psychologically draining and there was so much philosophical thought, feeling and pain that went into it. For my money, it's a pretty sad story. It's not 'Alexander the Great, TADA!', but a pretty sad, heavy story."

The toughness of making Alexander had as much to do as the demands placed on him by director Oliver Stone. "Oliver definitely demands a different respect as each human demands a different way of trying to pull them out of themselves and dance with him. Oh man, he was very honest with me from day one, very tough and he should've been."

Tough, Farrell says, "in the brutality of his honesty… At the same time, when he told you that was a great take, you knew it was a great take. He didn't dance around the truth, thank God, and there are not enough people in the world that has the brutal honesty that he has."

14th July 2004: Stone Wins Alexander Race - Or Maybe Not
Contrary to published reports, Baz Luhrmann has not--repeat not--pulled the plug on his big-budget historical biopic on the Macedonian conquerer--at least not yet. London's Daily Telegraph reported that Luhrmann decided to scrap the flick because he wanted to take a year off and spend more time with his production designer wife, Catherine Martin, and their new daughter, Lillian, born last October. The story was subsequently picked up by the New York Post.

However, disputing those accounts, Luhrmann's Australia-based rep, Maria Farmer, said the filmmaker has not scuttled Alexander and is still firming up plans for his next cinematic outing.

"Baz is currently in Europe working on the final draft of his script for Alexander the Great. When he completes that draft he will decide whether Alexander is the next film on his slate," Farmer told E! Online. "We do not know where these reports have originated from. They certainly did not come from Baz."

A coproduction of Universal Pictures and DreamWorks, Alexander the Great is supposed to star Leonardo DiCaprio as the boy king and Nicole Kidman as Alexander's mother, Olympia. It had been scheduled to start shooting this spring in the director's native Australia and hit theaters sometime in 2005.

Ever the perfectionist, Luhrmann had already postponed shooting on the film once, opting not to rush work on the film simply to "be drawn into a race," as he put it to the Los Angeles Times last year.

The initial delay ensured that a competing project from Warner Bros. and helmer Oliver Stone, simply titled Alexander, would be the first one into production. That film, budgeted at $150 million and starring Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie and Anthony Hopkins, is scheduled for release on Thanksgiving.

Luhrmann had scouted locations in Jordan, and producer Dino De Laurentiis signed a deal with Morocco's King Mohammed VI to build three soundstages there in exchange for the king putting more than 4,000 soldiers and 8,000 horses at Luhrmann's disposal. But after a series of suicide bombings in Casablanca in May 2003, Luhrmann opted to shoot Down Under as a safeguard against terrorism.

The filmmaker forged ahead with preproduction, beginning work on the flick's digital effects, filming some background shots in the Himalayas, and even shooting a promo reel, featuring DiCaprio in full gladiator garb, to hype Alexander the Great at last year's Cannes Film Festival.

In an article last year, however, Variety hinted that Luhrmann was considering shelving Alexander the Great and taking on another project instead. Much of that decision hinged upon the latest draft of the script by David Hare, which was delivered in February, and which Luhrmann working on right now.

The New York Post, meanwhile, reported that Kidman was "downhearted" about the cancellation.

DiCaprio's rep, Ken Sunshine, had no comment on the report. Despite shooting the preview footage, the Titanic star reportedly has yet to sign a contract. DiCaprio, who recently finished filming on Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, will next segue into The Good Shepherd, a historical film about the CIA to be directed by Robert De Niro. So even if Luhrmann were able to get things moving again with Alexander, he'd have to find time in Leo's ever-busy schedule or find another actor.

Luhrmann is best known for his "Red Curtain trilogy"--1992's Strictly Ballroom, 1996's William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet and 2001's Oscar-nominated Moulin Rouge!
Source: E! International

12th July 2004: Stone Wins Alexander Race
The race to make the big Alexander the Great biopic is off. Baz Luhrmann, the Australian director of "Moulin Rouge," has called off his epic, which was to have starred Nicole Kidman and Leonardo DiCaprio. The Daily Telegraph in London reports Luhrmann decided to take a year off following following the birth of his daughter Lillian last October. But Baz was way behind Oliver Stone, whose "Alexander" — starring Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer and Anthony Hopkins — is due out in November. Kidman, meanwhile, is said to be "down-hearted" at losing the part.

18th May 2004: Charging for Alexander - BBC4 Interview with Robin Lane Fox
BBC Four: Was your experience on the film set what you expected?
Robin Lane Fox: No. I had a vision of one vast cavalry charge involving a whole army that might be repeated two or three times. I hadn't realised the relatively short chunks of action into which filmmakers have to break down each scene. I certainly didn't understand the extreme skill in intercutting and arranging all the various pieces in Oliver's jigsaw. Secondly, I had confidence in my ability to sit on a horse but I found the initial riding taxing in ways I hadn't anticipated. The lances we were using, which were all historically researched and based on war paintings of the Macedonian cavalrymen, were initially a bit heavier and trickier than I had expected. I also had not really thought of such basic problems that if one's helmet is made in standard size, rather than the customised ones the stars had, and you are galloping flat out, it is quite likely that first time round it will fall in front of your eyes so you can't really see where you're going. However, by the time I got used to it, I was unstoppable!

BBC Four: How did the professional riders in Oliver Stone's cavalry react to the presence of an Oxford don in their ranks?
RLF: They were thrilled. The expert stunt riders were willing to take me on sufferance. Stunt riders sit on horses and treat them like motor bikes. The stuntmen on the ground are pathological about horse accidents because they don't ride themselves. The really wonderful riders were the Spanish riders and many of the Moroccan Main Cavalry. It was assumed that if you were in the film you were up to their level.

BBC Four: As an academic, what were your impressions of the blockbuster movie making process?
RLF: Films have to be compromises. Everything has to be told rapidly and you can't go into extreme detail. But we had teams of armourers and textile makers all around the world. Unbelievably they were doing it from 1 June to 1 September. If any university in Britain or America had been asked to coordinate the making of historically-based replicas for over 2,000 people in four months they would have got as far as the initial paperwork empowering the health and safety officers to come and see it. Given that, I now understand the speed and commitment and love with which everybody works and it is tremendous.

BBC Four: What were the hardest questions that Stone asked you as an historian?
RLF: The most difficult questions concerned Aristotle. He was determined to try to represent Alexander's tutor, the great Aristotle, as accurately as possible. Oliver was keen to know Aristotle's views on the gods and the myths. I was certainly stretched by that and he did a lot to improve my understanding of Aristotle, which was pretty limited before. Otherwise, the most difficult things were the everyday things like how do Greeks blow their noses. Historians work with the evidence they have and they observe where there are gaps and sometimes they may guess beyond them. But their questioning is guided by the evidence. A filmmaker is guided by the need to visualise, whether there is direct evidence or not.
Source: BBC

8th May 2004: Robin Lane Fox - Into Battle with Alexander
Oliver Stone is turning the deeds of Alexander the Great into a sword and sandals epic. Historian Robin Lane Fox agreed to advise on period detail — just as long as he could lead the cavalry.

Big movies are notorious for trampling on history; I have just given the year’s biggest movie the chance of trampling on a historian. In November, Oliver Stone’s film about Alexander the Great will burst on the world. I have been the film’s historical adviser and in September last year I galloped on my stallion across the Moroccan desert at the head of Oliver’s cavalry charge. We were filming the battle of Gaugamela, Alexander’s greatest victory over the Persians.

Both advising and acting roles came as a result of my book about Alexander and my lifelong study of him. Charging across the desert gave me a unique opportunity for some first-hand historical research. Can we really understand the horse-bound charges which were essential to Alexander’s famous victories if we have never tried to carry one out? It was also a fantasy and spectacularly good fun.

Alexander’s appeal lies in his youth, his feat of overthrowing an ancient empire and the mystery of aims and ideals which were never finally expressed before his death, aged 32. He was the most powerful man in his world at an age when most of us are still being sat on by our elders. He had a strong sense of his close relationship to the gods, encouraging the idea that he was the begotten son of Zeus. In my view, he set out to reach the eastern edge of the inhabited world. Like his great tutor, Aristotle, he had seriously underestimated its extent. Tutorials back in Greek Macedonia had persuaded him that the world ran out in northwest India. His men refused to go on, but he returned to visit a supposed southern edge of the world at the mouth of the River Indus and probably to aim for a western edge beyond the Strait of Gibraltar. If he had lived, we would have been spared the ghastliness of the next global power, the Romans. The late André Malraux, that beacon of French educated culture, once told me that he admired young Alexander because at least he had the courage to die of his vices.

Stone is not the first director to be attracted to Alexander, or the first to come to me for help. Back in 1974 I found myself in London, at the Ritz, discussing plans for an Alexander movie with Gregory Peck, dressed in one of those famous white suits. He fancied himself as Alexander’s father, Philip, the man who knew how it had all begun. Twentieth Century Fox were willing to finance it, but sadly the great man died first and the torch passed to Time Life films instead.

In autumn 1977 they embarked on their script for a major Alexander series to be broadcast as “docudrama” round the world with a budget of tens of millions of dollars. In their wisdom, they chose a director, unknown in Europe, who was most famous for a film on the prisons of the American South. Our meeting in Oxford was not a great success. It was not just that the Randolph Hotel served him with green-coloured potato chips; it was that his main interests were the drugs supposedly taken by Alexander and the great man’s meeting with the High Priest of the Jews. In fact, there is not a shred of evidence that Alexander took any recreational drug, except quantities of wine. His meeting with the High Priest in Jerusalem is a pure fiction, invented about 200 years after his death.

After spending several million dollars, Time Life scaled down the project and turned it into a superficially scripted, cut-price alternative.

Three years later, just as a tutorial on early Sparta was coming to an inconclusive close in my Oxford college rooms, Steven Spielberg’s producers rang up to tell me with excitement how Alexander had “dreamt his way from the farm” to conquer the world by the age of 25.

“Steven really gets this youth thing in history,” they told me, “and he wants you to do a treatment of the childhood theme.” I took it on only as an escape route from tutorials, but before I could finish Steven struck first and sent me a telegram: “Have decided to get out of youth. Alexander is off. Steven.”

By 2001 three major projects were said to be in the air, but I was half relieved that none of them had given me a workout again. The huge television company HBO was rumoured to be budgeting up to $200 million for a series on Alexander, directed by Mel Gibson, who would play King Philip himself and preside over a script which was believed to be full of sodomy and filthy language. Instead, he filmed Jesus on the Cross with violence and in Aramaic. The elderly Dino Di Laurentiis was talking expansively about his plans for the big movie, casting the effete Leonardo DiCaprio as Alexander. The press were full of him, with only a few allusions to the parallel plans of the controversial Stone.

Two years later, it is Stone who has won and has closed the lid on an extraordinary 16 weeks’ filming. The mood of movies starts from the top and is either hellish or heavenly. I have talked to all the participants and been one of them, and I have to say that for all of us, Alexander has tended to the heavenly end of the scale. It still has to be cut and who knows what the public taste will be after the release of Wolfgang Petersen’s film about Troy? But I have seen the uncut dailies and I promise you, you are all in for a memorable treat.

When Stone invited me to London two years ago to discuss Alexander with him, perhaps I should have asked for millions of dollars and a film credit for my book. No doubt he would have found somebody else to advise him among the dozens of more prudent historians who also engage with this subject around the world. Before our meeting, however, I had arranged my priorities in case the relationship went well. I decided to ask for two rewards: a place in the first 15 of every major cavalry charge to be filmed in Alexander’s company and the words “and introducing” in front of my name in the credits.

Even Stone was taken aback by this request. He pointed out that “and introducing” would be impossible because there is a professional hierarchy in such matters. My request to ride in the cavalry charge caused him consternation too, until I assured him that I have ridden for 45 years and risked every bone, still unbroken, in my body in the yearly pursuit of English foxes. There would be health and safety problems, he hardly needed to tell me, but, “OK, I’ll tell them to do it, if I possibly can . . . we’ll have a rebel on horseback . . . you’re mad; you’re a cross between Peter Sellers and Ian Fleming.”

Has any cavalryman ever gone off to mock-battle with such a pedigree? “A rebel on horseback...” Only now do I discover the allusion lurking in those words. In the early 1980s Stone made his name with his first great film, Salvador, which ended with an emotional scene of his left-wing guerrilla heroes galloping on horseback against an array of repressive American tanks. It was too much for some of the critics, but now he had his chance to redress the political balance. He could send an Old Etonian on horseback through the dust clouds in pursuit of a mirage of antiquity’s greatest king.

We embarked on what would become a thrice-weekly quiz game late at night. Hollywood and Oxford University are in different time zones, and so after his lunch Stone would ring me in the evening in the Cotswolds and bombard me with questions, not many of which I could answer.

Did Alexander’s men ever eat melons? What did Aristotle really think about the ancient myths? What did the main god of Babylon look like? Alexander’s Macedonia was Greek, but what would his Greek language sound like to other educated ears further south in Athens? Should his star, Colin Farrell, have blond highlights in his hair? Alexander had a sexual nature, but as the film, correctly, was not going to turn him in to a “gay” from a counter-culture, how should his passionate life be handled? My colleagues told me that for historians, Stone was supposed to be like Satan, perhaps because they had seen his film of Nixon and I had not. Like the poet John Milton, I have to say I quickly became very fond of Satan. Anyway, the claim that Stone has no historical sense is completely untrue.

I was stretched, as he was, by constant consultations which were concerned to do as much justice as possible to the little evidence which we have.

Then out in Morocco, in the heat of mid-September, it was time to begin my cavalry career. I won’t give away too much of the BBC Four documentary that recorded the events on set, but I can reveal that my military trainer was the fabled Captain Dale Dye, best known for teaching the two Natural Born Killers Micky and Mallory in Stone’s notorious film. On set, the Captain wears a T-shirt, stating “Pain is weakness leaving the body”. It is a message guaranteed to terrorise a natural-born shirker from Oxford. But it was I, not he, who got on the horse and led the cavalry. He was photographed only on a camel at a slow walk.

Through clouds of dust, out there in the desert, I solved old scholarly questions: whether Alexander’s cavalrymen had shields (they did not), whether they could lance an unprotected enemy through the chest (I experimented and proved it with the willing Ibrahim) and whether they could pull out a lance from a body after death (they could, if they lanced a man in the shoulder, as I lanced a major star who spoke French).

But what the footage shows is only the beginning of an orgy of charging which later took me to Thailand and pitted me with bare legs against Stone’s elephants. In a dust cloud, horses are as stressed as men; it is also impossible for men ten paces behind a leader to see him when he signals a turn to left or right. The key people are the men immediately in front and on either side. Just like the little band of soldiers in Stone’s own masterpiece, Platoon, set in Vietnam.

I have to say that I would have died for Colin Farrell by the end, a loyalty which was widely shared. In Bangkok, in a darkened hotel room, we sat watching uncut dailies of the final emotional scenes of Stone’s film-to-be; the company were all male and muscular, but I could not stop myself from sobbing in the closing moments. Fortunately, another man could be seen in combat trousers sitting on the floor and doing the same and when the lights came on I saw that it was Farrell, equally transported by the evocation of the great Alexander whom he had had to bring to life.

Since then I have been offered a cavalry part in the proposed film of Hannibal. Naturally, I have refused, in disgust. Once you have charged for Alexander, how could you possibly charge for a one-eyed Carthaginian bandit who wandered for seven years around Italy before going to bed with any Italian woman at all — and then she was a tart?

I am happy to continue in my desert mirage of fantasy, but to return to reality I am forcing myself to re-read The Aeneid in Latin, reflecting that if Alexander had lived we would have been spared its existence.
Source: Times Online

17th April 2004: Angelina Jolie speaks about her age
"It's a strange thing. I'm Alexander's mother when he's seven and then he grows up, but I'm still his mother when Alexander is played by Colin, so they aged me. It was a bold choice for Oliver, because some people thought it was crazy, and at the same time Oliver believes it's the spirit of the person that should match the character. I hope he's right."

15th April 2004: Interview with Alexander Dance Choreographer - Piers Gielgud
Choreographer Piers Gielgud gives an Interview to Carol Straker from Dance On Film News:

Carol: You performed in James Ivory's 'The Golden Bowl' in 2001 (shot in 2000). Did you get a taste for working on feature films from that project?

Piers: Definitely. It wasn't my first film, but it was only through a lucky accident that I was in it at all. I stopped dancing in 1993 (after 11 years) when I was 32, however the choreographer was Karole Armitage who is one of my Idols, and I insisted on going to the casting at Re.Animator Management which is run by my wife Suzanne. I'd been told it was a character/mime part so I arrived in a suit and tie. Of course it was all dancing. Karole first set a complicated routine of turns and jumps, and then had me improvise an aggressive duet with Stephen Hughes (this was when he was still one of the finest contemporary dancers in the UK, before my wife turned him into a Musical Theatre God). I felt very stupid (everyone else was in dance gear) but I got the job. I learned a lot from Karole. Every day she was fully prepared but if something spontaneous happened in the studio she went with it, and I think the results were fabulous. I was also a bit disappointed with what ended up in the film, but this taught me a valuable lesson that film choreography has to be totally objective and functional and above all disposable. It has to fit in with what the director wants; otherwise it's no use to anybody. Golden Bowl was also very hard work. In all the sequence was about 10 minutes with lots of lifts, jumps and a big fight at the end. We were called for 6am and were wrapped at 10pm. I can't remember how many times we did it but by the time we finished, all of us were shattered.

Carol: You have Choreographed two feature films which are due out in 2004 - Alexander for Oliver Stone, and Being Julia for Istvan Szabo. What do you think you bring to those projects from a choreography point of view?

Piers: Until I see the finished films it will be hard to see if I've done anything for either of them. I try to avoid looking at rushes to avoid the disappointment of seeing my work cut to ribbons in the final version, which it usually is. There is only a small amount of dancing in Being Julia (waltzing at a garden party) and I think Istvan (Szabo) thought he wouldn't need a choreographer, so I was brought in at the last minute when he realised he did (I'd like to see someone try and make a film without a director!). I had to teach two of the principals - Jeremy Irons and Leigh Lawson - how to waltz convincingly. They worked hard and both had superb partners (west end dancers Lauren Brooke and Frankie Wedge) so I thought they both looked quite convincing. I think I did a reasonably good job and I hope it gives something to the finished film.

Alexander, by complete contrast, has a lot of dancing in it. Oliver (Stone) decided to emphasise two of the film's pivotal scenes with big dance numbers, so the choreography was substantially more significant than it had been for (Being) Julia. In addition there was a lot of background dancing to deal with. I only worked on Julia for 1 week, but I worked on Alexander from the beginning of July to the end of December 2003. I had to do a lot of research for authenticity (dancing from Macedonia, and around the vast Persian Empire back in 350BC - I'm basically a ballet man but for film you must be able to do anything you are asked). I also had to collaborate closely with the 'Oscar winning' composer Vangelis who is fabulous to work with. All his music for Alexander is incredible. I think it will eclipse anything he has done before. Working with him on the music for the dances was a unique and altogether mind blowing experience. Oliver is also a dream to work with. He knows exactly what he wants and how to go about getting it. It's a true collaboration. He works very closely with you and he values your opinion and input. He also has an uncanny method of making you want to do your very best for him. The script is extraordinary (remember that Oliver's first Oscar was for screenwriting) and the fact that he has placed so much emphasis on dance, leads me to believe that the choreography could make a significant contribution to the finished film. I certainly think that Oliver got some of my very best work from me.

Carol: Alexander has a huge dance cast. How long did it take to get everyone together before shooting?

Piers: It felt like forever! My first job on joining the production was to help the Casting Director, Lucinda Syson, find the two main characters that dance. Most difficult to find was the eunuch Bagoas who had to be an androgynous 17-year-old boy of extraordinary beauty, as well as being an amazing dancer, who could act. Lucinda had been searching for months, looking at both male and female actors, dancers, models, transsexuals, real eunuchs etc. but to no avail. My wife Suzanne suggested the Spanish ENB dancer Francisco Bosch, who she'd recently signed. We both coached him on his dialogue and I choreographed a solo for him, which he performed for Oliver in his office. Oliver was blown away and Francisco was virtually offered the part on the spot. The part of the Princess Roxane was too difficult an acting role for the dancers we submitted, and it eventually went to the actress Rosario Dawson who is fortunately a gifted amateur dancer. Suzanne went on to cast all the remaining dancers in Alexander but because of the other films with dancers going on at the same time, very few people were available. I only had a full cast together literally by the first day of rehearsal on each occasion. I was very lucky in that all the dancers I got to work with were truly amazing. I like to work with the same people when I can, and now I'm seriously spoilt for choice. There was a very magical atmosphere on Alexander - it's going to be a tough act to follow.

Carol: It's a great time to be a choreographer working in Cinema, with films like Bye Bye Birdie and The Company coming soon. Are you excited about the opportunities being generated for dancers on film at the moment?

Piers: Definitely (have either of them booked a choreographer yet?) but I am also concerned. Suzanne and I have had to work very hard to make sure that our dancers are treated properly on Films. Dancers are frequently kept waiting for ages in the freezing cold before being asked to dance full out with no breaks between takes. They're rarely given a class or a warm up. They are usually expected to dance on surfaces that are dangerous, and have to avoid dangerous objects (on one film recently, a group of dancers had to negotiate a herd of terrified sheep!). It's a miracle the injury rate isn't higher. Most of the time they are treated like extras, which is completely unacceptable. I'm a qualified Health and Safety officer (Nerd alert!) and I was able to do Risk Assessments for the Alexander dancing scenes, which were fully implemented by the production. Suzanne and I are currently working with Equity on a dancers' film contract that should iron out all these problems in the future. We've asked all our dancers who've done a film in the last year to contribute by completing a questionnaire regarding their treatment and the conditions they were asked to work under. Most of the Alexander dancers, however, said that it was the most amazing job they've ever done, and I do believe that it is great experience for dancers to work on feature films and to work with great men like Oliver Stone. Personally I find film choreography the most rewarding of all, and I'm glad that so many films want to feature dancers right now. I hope it stays that way for a long time.
Reprinted courtesy of Dance On Film News - (c) Carol Straker Dance Foundation - http://www.constellation-change.co.uk

21st February 2004: Angelina Jolie talks about Alexander
She says she's most excited about "Alexander", of the movies she has in the pipeline. Her role (Alexander's mom): "I age to 52, and strangely enough - and maybe to Colin (Farrell)'s credit as an actor - he plays young and I play older. It didn't feel weird at all. We were very connected to some very intense scenes. Somehow, it's the essence of the story. Olympias is wild. She's quite strong and quite...dark. She's an extreme, ruthless character, and yet I LOVED her".

On Oliver and Co.: "I love Oliver. Whether you agree with him or not, he just has a very strong, clear mind. He is somebody who has lived a very amazing life. He actually understands battle and life and death and friendship and loss and family and brotherhood and country more than most people in this business. We all sat around, me, Colin, Oliver, and Val Kilmer, and we've all been picked on so much as a group. We're READY for shots to be taken! Somebody said, "For a period piece, what a weird group". But if you think about it, the Greeks, they were a wild bunch, so it's not that crazy".

On Colin (traveled with her and her son Maddox to Egypt for Christmas holiday): "The three of us woke up Christmas morning and went on camels and saw the pyramids and then spent a few days just exploring Egypt and going to the desert and sleeping outside. (Right now it's a friendship, but) the press leaves no room for the idea that you would consider one day MAYBE dating. There's no room for that. We both wanted to see Alexandria and Egypt. He's wonderful. He's a great guy...we're similar, but, like me, he's not out to get anybody. He's quite open and nice".
Source: Vogue

16th February 2004: Film Damaged
New movie Alexander has been thrown into disarray after director Oliver Stone discovered he shot the final scenes on damaged film. The Natural Born Killers film-maker - who has been shooting the movie in the Far East with Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie - will now have to go back and re-shoot the scenes after he discovered they were unusable when he viewed the rushes in Uban, Thailand. Stone had originally shot the final scenes of his movie in Bangkok, but thinks the film was damaged when it went through airport checks before being delivered.

27th January 2004: Production Details
- A staggering 20,000 costumes have been designed. The film's armorers created 9,000 arrows, 3,000 shields, 3,000 swords, 4,000 bows, 200 cavalry lances and 350 axes and club.
- Producer John Kilik says "In Morocco, we had close to 1,000 soldiers provided as extras by the army. We have a crew of about 120 here in London, but in Morocco it was up to about 500. We had 2,000 people, and 120 horses. We'd have two units going, one with five cameras, the other with three, and Oliver going back and forth"
- Farrell speaks on-screen in a softer version of his own strong Irish accent and many of the actors cast as his allies are Irish or English. This was deliberate policy on Stone's part: "These men were Macedonians, not cultivated Greeks, and it seemed to me they occupied a similar position that the Irish and Scots did to the
English in the British Empire"
- Stone says:"One thing that comes out in this film is that the Olympic gods start to lose their hold on man. Mankind goes toward Christianity, that comes 300, 400 years later, but men start to look for personal salvation as opposed to the Olympic gods, who weren't enough. Alexander shows you that man can do it, become the highest reflection of gods".
- One scene shot in London was the entry into Babylon of Alexander and his Macedonian comrades, who are greeted warmly. But a member of the city's ruling family is concerned about how they will be treated by these invaders, and Alexander speaks to her reassuringly. The set is described as "a huge space
with pillars, columns, fountains and real hanging plants, imported from Holland. The costumes of the extras, representing half a dozen nationalities, are so vivid that at first glance it can give one a sense of visual overload".
Source: Los Angeles Times

21st January 2004: Set report from Thailand
"We had our first full day of shooting yesterday and it was hella long, plus the moccasins we wear for our costumes are not Nike Airs so our feet hurt like a motha. It is cool but no joke, we worked 20 hours yesterday."
"We left the hotel at 3:45 am for the set and right before we left Colin [Farrell] rolled in with a few buddies and one of them had a beer bottle in his hand, definitely coming in from the night before." As for Colin's part in the filming; he was spotted with two others riding horseback just coming up to see what was going on but he did not shoot.
As far as what they were shooting we got word that it was four separate scenes. Shooting is taking place in a jungle like setting in the Udon Thani province in Thailand. The ground is covered in leaves and the cast and ground is consistently sprayed down with a fire house to create that "tropical" effect. Also amidst the forest are several fog machines and a drummer some 50 yards away beating a large drum every 5-10 seconds.
The first scene "was of all of us [Alexander's army] lined up in army formation on a hill that was slowly rising up behind us, and our commander was in front and was pacing back and forth and said, 'you will hit them with your left...and then hit them with your right,' in a very deep English accent."
A second scene was very similar to the first but covering the left flank of the formation, and the third scene is a little more intense as it focuses on what are called choppers, which our insider is one of and the head commander yells out, "Bring the assault teams forward!" Then the battle captain yells, "Choppers, prepare your blades. Follow me!"
Our insider reports that, "The choppers are an assault team that attacks elephants. Each elephant has a guard at each leg to keep him from being attacked, so the first four guys in the assault team are to attack these four guys and the second four guys have no shields but have long hooked blade weapons tied to their hamstrings and they gut the elephant."
He described it as "fog everywhere, a creepy battle drum, and a US Marine Corp. captain yelling orders to an army of guys with medieval weapons. No joke, Oliver [Stone] hired a USMC advisor to run the extras and be the military advisor."
The fourth scene they shot "was when our battalion is ordered to lower our spears then a horn sounds signaling our troops that we are being attacked from behind, half the troops steady and half turn to fight."
As for what they are wearing he said, "I am wearing a burlap sac with arm and head holes cut in it along with a burlap pair of undies. I have an arched short sword and a big silver shield. Most of us have to wear hair pieces so that we have locks hanging out our helmets, mostly black but with blonde streaks, they also made us shave our legs."
The piece of land they are shooting on is reportedly 20-30 acres and they will stay there until approximately the 31st when they will move about 5 hours northwest to continue the shoot. The scenes are supposedly the battles that went on in India and so far the only warriors shot have been the Macedonians.
Source: Rope of Sillicon

20th January 2004: Closed Set in Thailand
Oliver Stone has summoned 20 armour-clad elephants and hundreds of actors to central Thailand to shoot scenes for his latest epic, Alexander. But apparently the writer-director doesn't want anyone else around. "It's a closed set," said publicist Michael Singer. "It's to allow the production to go ahead without distractions." With few exceptions, the media has been barred from visiting the set of the film about Alexander the Great, which stars Colin Farrell as the Macedonian conqueror. Furthermore, cast members said they'd been warned not to take their own photographs of a battle scene being filmed this week in Lopburi province, 115 kilometres north of Bangkok. "We've been warned that if Oliver sees us with a camera, he'll storm over, stomp all over the camera and personally escort you off the set," said one actor. The team is shooting scenes in which Alexander confronts an Indian king, Porus, during his invasion of India in 325 BC. More filming is planned in northeastern Ubon Ratchathani province in coming weeks.

18th January 2004: A World to Conquer
"Let's go, guys!" he yells cheerfully to no one in particular, clapping his hands as some 200 extras, dressed variously as Macedonian soldiers, Indians, Persians and skimpily dressed Babylonian women, scurry into position. Eccentrically, Stone has chosen to wear a wide-brimmed hat (indoors!) to complement his sports shirt and chinos. He's flashing his gap-toothed smile a lot. Clearly he's in an ebullient mood.
It's understandable. Stone has long wanted to make a film about the military conqueror Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), who in his 32 years created the most stupendous empire the world had seen, stretching from the Balkans to the Himalayas, and including what is now Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan. "I started talking about this in 1989, when the German producer Thomas Schuehly approached me," Stone recalls. But when making a film of Alexander's life finally became feasible, he was not alone in wanting to do it."
After the success of Gladiator a couple of years ago, sword-and-sandals epics suddenly seemed viable for the first time in 40 years. And the story of Alexander the Great was clearly the one to bring to the screen. At one point, it seemed there might be three competing biopics — confusingly, all earmarked to be made in Morocco. Martin Scorsese was briefly reputed to be interested, while Italian producer Dino de Laurentiis had plans for an Alexander epic, directed by Baz Luhrmann, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. A little more than a year ago, Stone looked like an underdog.
He threw in his lot with the giant European-American production and distribution company Intermedia, wrote a strong script, and generally behaved as if his rivals didn't exist.
Stone's tenacity paid off. Two days before he found himself marshaling extras on the Hanging Gardens set, the "Alexander" production learned that the De Laurentiis-Luhrmann-DiCaprio version had fallen through for now. He finally has a clear run at the story — and he believes that in the person of Irish actor Colin Farrell he has the definitive Alexander.
"The competition got nasty at times," says Intermedia Chairman Moritz Borman, speaking by phone from his office in Munich, Germany. "Quite frankly, when we started, they had Baz Luhrmann, who had just done 'Moulin Rouge.' Leonardo was at that time a bigger star than Colin. I had the smaller package, so to speak. But Oliver's script is extraordinary. So I had a screenplay. They never did. They just had different versions."
Still, this "smaller package" comprises a budget described by Borman as "hovering around $150 million." The film also stars Anthony Hopkins as Ptolemy, who founded the Macedonian dynasty in Egypt; Val Kilmer as Alexander's father, Philip; and Angelina Jolie (in real life only a year older than Farrell) as his mother, Olympias. Jared Leto plays Hephaistion, a Macedonian warrior who is Alexander's closest friend. (!!!)

A mammoth operation

The production itself is conceived on a truly monumental scale, spanning three continents. Shooting began in Morocco's deserts and Atlas mountains in late September. Interiors were shot here for three weeks over the Christmas-New Year period. "Alexander" has now moved to Thailand for jungle battle scenes; the 85-day shoot concludes early next month.
Borman likens it to "a very big road movie." A staggering 20,000 costumes have been designed. The film's armorers created 9,000 arrows, 3,000 shields, 3,000 swords, 4,000 bows, 200 cavalry lances and 350 axes and clubs.
"In Morocco, we had close to 1,000 soldiers provided as extras by the army," producer John Kilik recalls. "We have a crew of about 120 here in London, but in Morocco it was up to about 500. We had 2,000 people, and 120 horses. We'd have two units going, one with five cameras, the other with three, and Oliver going back and forth. It's like a military operation."
Alexander intrigued Stone from their first introduction.
"When I read the Random House classic book of the 1950s, he took my imagination. The beauty of the man, combined with his dashing exploits and his strong parents — he's fascinating material. He had an idealism I find very rare," Stone says. "He truly believed in the myths and executed them. He outshone Achilles and practically matched the myths of Hercules, in his way. It's an astounding story: a boy who followed his dreams. People don't do that often in life, and when you find them, you want to know about them."
Another reason Stone relished the prospect of an Alexander film was the sheer challenge: "No one's done it. No one's written something about Alexander's life that's remembered. There was a bad opera. Robert Rossen, bless his soul, took it on and completely missed it," says Stone, referring to the director's 1956 film "Alexander the Great." "Why didn't Shakespeare try it? Or Marlowe, or the Roman playwrights? It's bizarre."
Stone and his team have seen for themselves why Alexander's life proves such a daunting project. "The big films I made before were contemporary," Stone says. "With this we had to start from scratch, make every single piece of clothing and armor, because nothing is available. We go back 23 centuries, so whatever you need — pottery, glasses — there's nothing you can get."
Even the climate has caused headaches for the production. "In Morocco, we had sandstorms," Stone says. "To some extent, I kept shooting through them, but we still lost 2 1/2 days out of 37 there. The key is to make it a guerrilla operation — get in and out fast."
Then there was the small matter of finance. Borman admitted that shooting started on "Alexander" before all the money was in place. Intermedia sold distribution rights territory by territory. But not until Warner Bros., its U.S. distributor, also agreed to finance the film's distribution in Britain and Italy was the project on safe financial footing.

Enthusiastic star

While getting an epic made is one thing, persuading audiences to see it is another. Much of its success will depend on Colin Farrell, who plays Alexander. And today he is decidedly under the weather, with a bout of flu. Between takes he huddles in a corner of the set, next to a heater.
Farrell has grown his dark hair to chin length and dyed it blond. His limbs are bronzed with tanning oil. He looks the part, in a tunic and sandals, yet there are occupational hazards with such a costume — as he drags deeply on a cigarette, ash falls on his bare thigh and Farrell mutters an obscenity.
"Painful," he says finally. "Especially when your legs have been shaved." But even through his illness, his enthusiasm for "Alexander" is evident. "In the last four years I've been lucky enough to do some big jobs," he says. "But I've never done anything like this. It's a very noble endeavor, this film. Alexander was a man who gained absolute power. He was ruler of what people knew the Earth to be at that stage. He's the original Greek tragedy, you know? He was running away from a lot, running toward a lot and trying to find himself in the middle."
Farrell insists that Stone's script (which he based on a biography of Alexander by British historian Robin Lane Fox) is itself a coherent historical account.
"You can never know enough, so you read 'The Iliad' and Sophocles, you get a feeling for the gods," he says. "But Page 1 to Page 158 [of the script], that's the bible. You can just run with what Oliver wrote and make it your own."
As for Stone, he's thrilled with his leading man. "See that?" he said, after the day's filming. "Colin has the flu, but you wouldn't know it. I ask him for choices with a line, and he just adjusts it four different ways. He's so upbeat…. Oh, yeah, and he's nasty in an Irish way. All his best lines are under his breath. It's hard to get all that. This is a young man's story, and what young American actor has all that?"
Farrell casts his gaze upward, around the enormous set. "Our production designer and costume designer [Jan Roelfs and eight-time Oscar nominee Jenny Beavan] are geniuses. They create this world, and all you have to do is exist in it. I've seen some amazing sets, but look at this!"
He has a point. It's an extraordinary spectacle — a huge space with pillars, columns, fountains and real hanging plants, imported from Holland. The costumes of the extras, representing half a dozen nationalities, are so vivid that at first glance it can give one a sense of visual overload. The scene marks the entry into Babylon of Alexander and his Macedonian comrades, who are greeted warmly. But a member of the city's ruling family is concerned about how they will be treated by these invaders, and Alexander speaks to her reassuringly.
Intriguingly, Farrell speaks in a softer version of his own strong Irish accent — and many of the actors cast as his allies are Irish or English. This was deliberate policy on Stone's part: "These men were Macedonians, not cultivated Greeks, and it seemed to me they occupied a similar position that the Irish and Scots did to the English in the British Empire," he said.
It isn't hard to figure out why Stone was drawn to Alexander the Great; he is fascinated by power and its exercise. He has made two movies about U.S. presidents ("JFK" in 1991 and "Nixon" in 1995) and his last two films, "Commandante" and "Persona Non Grata," focused on Fidel Castro and Yasser Arafat, respectively.
"One thing that comes out in this film is that the Olympic gods start to lose their hold on man," Stone says. "Mankind goes toward Christianity, that comes 300, 400 years later, but men start to look for personal salvation as opposed to the Olympic gods, who weren't enough. Alexander shows you that man can do it, become the highest reflection of gods."
So the trick is to make a movie that reflects that ambition? Stone smiled: "Exactly."
By David Gritten - LA Times

14th January 2004: Filming in Thailand
Award-winning movie director Oliver Stone will begin shooting scenes for his upcoming historical epic "Alexander" in Thailand this week, a publicist said Wednesday. Hundreds of Thai and foreign cast and crew members will start filming scenes Thursday for the movie about the life of Alexander the Great, starring Colin Farrell as the Macedonian conqueror, publicist Michael Singer said. "Alexander" also features Hollywood heavyweights Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins and Val Kilmer. It was not immediately known which, if any, of the stars will be filmed in Thailand. "It is a large-scale movie. We are shooting large-scale scenes here. We are involving elephants," he told The Associated Press. "We have a lot of participants, both in front of and in back of the camera, who are Thai." Parts of the story that take place in India will actually be shot in Thailand, he said, adding that the shoot will end early February. Singer refused to say exactly where in Thailand the filming would take place, but cast members said on condition of anonymity that the sets for "Alexander" are in the provinces of Saraburi and Ubon Ratchathani. Saraburi is about 90 kilometers (55 miles) north of Bangkok and Ubon Ratchathani is about 500 kilometers (300 miles) northeast of the Thai capital, near the border with neighboring Laos. It is the final stop for the "Alexander" production crew, which began shooting in September and has already filmed scenes on location in Morocco and at studios near London, Singer said. Stone wrote the film, which tells the story of the relentless conqueror Alexander, born in 356 B.C., who assembled the largest empire the world had ever seen by the age of 32.
Thanks to Maryp at the Collin Farrel Fansite for this info.

12th December 2003: Farrell accidentally stabs co-star
According to reports, Colin Farrell has accidentally stabbed his co-star Gary Stretch while filming 'Alexander'. He punctured Stretch's protective padding, cutting him in the stomach, during filming for one of the climactic fight scenes. Stretch, a former boxer, was taken to Wexham Park hospital in Slough for treatment, but has since returned to work. Stretch said: "It was a very minor wound. It's one of those movies where these kinds of things happen. We've all had a few bangs and scratches."

12th December 2003: Stone's 'Alexander' sees off Luhrmann
Oliver Stone's version of the story of the great general Alexander is now the only game in town after Baz Luhrmann closed down his version. It seems Luhrmann was unable to raise the money to complete his version of the film, which means that Oliver Stone's film is on its own.

11th December 2003: Vangelis to write music
It would appear that Vangelis "Chariots of Fire" Papathanassiou is to write the musical score the Oliver Stone's "Alexander" movie. Vangelis was quoted as saying "I've always admired Oliver's films. And, of course, Alexander the Great is a story that's a natural part of my heritage. So, to be composing for this film with Oliver Stone directing makes it an especially exciting experience for me".

24th November 2003: Farrell and Jolie NOT an item
Irish actor Colin Farrell has trashed reports he's dating his Alexander co-star Angelina Jolie, even though they were reportedly spotted kissing at a London club on Saturday night. The actor - in Britain's capital for the premiere of new low-budget movie Intermission - insists he went to Elisium and Annabel's with Jolie "as colleagues" rather than lovers, and has laughed off eyewitness reports, which claim they were passionately locking lips and flirting until 3am. He says, "We went out for some drinks, as colleagues. Don't most people go out for a few drinks with the people they work with?" However, he admits Angelina - mother of adopted Cambodian son Maddox - has inspired him to be a good father to his two-month-old son James. He adds, "She is just gorgeous with her son. She is amazing." But Farrell swept aside any romance worries in spectacular style yesterday when he embarked on a 14-hour drinking spree - which eventually ended at 7am this morning at his suite in London's Savoy Hotel.

23rd November 2003: Farrell and Jolie an item
Angelina Jolie and Colin Farrell are the newest and hottest couple in showbiz. The Irish bad boy worked his charms on the Tomb Raider beauty as they partied in London until 4am yesterday. Colin Farrell was determined to pull Angelina from the start of the evening and his persistence eventually paid off. By the early hours he was bumping and grinding with the actress on the dancefloor of London hotspot Elysium. The pair had agreed to meet at Annabelle’s for drinks with their director pal Oliver Stone. Colin was turned away because he was in jeans so he raced back to his Covent Garden hotel to change into black trousers. He was let in and stayed just half an hour — long enough for his Irish charms to work. Colin told lush-lipped Angelina he was off to Elysium and said she would make his night if she joined him. Minutes later she followed in a cab. Of course, he was waiting with champagne on ice. After a few glasses they hit the dancefloor, leaving onlookers in no doubt as to their intentions. One said: “They were all over each other. Colin couldn’t keep his hands to himself. They looked very intimate. The chemistry was unmistakable.”

22nd November 2003: Yet another Alexander film
Ilya Salkind, a producer of the first three "Superman" films, and Jeffrey Taylor, (2000's "What's Cooking?") plan to produce "Macedonia's Alexander the Great" as the first in a trilogy of films on the life and times of Hollywood's favorite conqueror. The film will be written by Dan Skinner and will be directed by Jalal Merhi, whose previous credits include direct-to-video actioners "The Circuit" and "Sometimes a Hero." This latest film, of course, should not to be confused with Oliver Stone's "Alexander," now in production, or with Baz Luhrmann's "Untitled Alexander the Great Project." Aris Papadimitriou will depict Alexander's best friend, Hephaestion (a role portrayed by Jared Leto in "Alexander") and Egypt's Hala Sedki will play his mother, Queen Olympias (Angelina Jolie has the part in Stone's film). Production is scheduled to begin on February 7th in Greece and Egypt. And although no distribution is in place, an October release is intended for "Macedonia's." Warner Bros. Pictures intends to release Stone's film Nov. 5.

5th November 2003: Surfer Boy?
Actor Colin Farrell is enjoying playing legendary conqueror Alexander in his epic new film but the hairdo isn't Great. Farrell, 27, who donned gold armour for the role, claims his newly blond locks make him look like an "effeminate surfer boy''.

22th October 2003: Angelina confused
It would appear that Angelina Jolie is a little confused about the time lines in her new movie Alexander. Jolie is playing Alexander The Great’s mother, Olympias, in the forthcoming Oliver Stone epic. But Jolie thinks the Greek conqueror, played by Colin Farrell, died aged 19; he was actually 33. But the 28-year-old actress, responding to criticism that she is too young to play the mother of 27-year-old Farrell, said: "I play Alexander's mother when he's seven and I age through the movie, though he was quite young when he died, about 19. So it's not like his mother was that old by the end. She's mid-30s."

20th October 2003: Blondes don't have all the fun
Movie wildman Colin Farrell is fed up with his new blonde hairdo - because women seem to disapprove. The actor has had his hair dyed for new movie Alexander, and can't wait to get his original colour back. A source says, "Colin can't wait to get rid of the blonde hair because he thinks it makes him look like an effeminate surfer boy. He says he gets more attention from gay men than women, and has taken to going out with a hat on."

14th October 2003: Angelina quits hotel over flashing Farrell
Angelina Jolie has stormed out of a hotel, apparently disgusted at the debauched antics of wildman Colin Farrell. The Hollywood actress was fed up with her hard-drinking co-star after he repeatedly dropped his trousers during binges. A film insider was quoted as saying: "He was always getting his bits out when he'd had a few, so we nicknamed him C*** out Colin. We thought it was hilarious but Angelina didn't." The stunning actress checked out of the Le Meridien hotel in Marrakesh, Morocco, taking her adopted Vietnamese son Maddox with her. Soon afterwards Farrell upset hotel staff by stubbing out cigarettes on the furniture. He has now also moved to another hotel.

7th October 2003: Ian Beattie to play Antiginous
Ian Beattie ( Caught red Handed, Observe the Sons of Ulster) has been cast by Oliver Stone as Antiginous, Alexander's friend.

7th October 2003: Stone gives Alexander progress report
Oliver Stone and Colin Farrell provoked a media scrum Monday night as they arrived at the Marrakech International Film Festival to talk up the Alexander the Great epic, which Stone is shooting just outside the city. Stone said he was happy with progress so far on the shoot of "Alexander," with Irishman Farrell in the title role as the Macedonian king. "Knock on wood, it's going very well," he said. "We're on schedule and on budget. The weather's been a little tricky, with sandstorms and rain that surprised us. But we're pushing on." The director said Morocco was the key location for "Alexander," which will later move to Thailand for scenes involving elephants and England for studio sequences.

6th October 2003: Producer Thomas Schuhly has been talking about Alexander
German producer Thomas Schuhly has been talking about Alexander. He says that two weeks have been completed. "We're shooting for 87 days, which must be some kind of record. We've built huge sets, and we had literally trains full of props," the producer said, promising some of the biggest battle scenes ever seen on the big screen.

2nd October 2003: Kilmer looking forward to working with Angelina Jolie
Actor Val Kilmer is thoroughly excited about going to Morocco to shoot scenes for the epic Alexander - mainly because Angelina Jolie is his co-star. Despite the May 2003 bombings in Casablanca which killed 44 people and drastically reduced the number of film productions taking place in the North African country, Kilmer is undeterred about starring in the epic alongside Collin Farrell. He says, "I'm not worried about going there at all. I'm really excited. Angelina Jolie is playing my wife, and I really think that she's such a genius." Kilmer is due to arrive in Morocco this month (October) for filming which is scheduled to conclude at the beginning of next year.

26th September 2003: Val Kilmer concentrates on Alexander
Val Kilmer, who was to have played a leading role in director Michael Mann 's Tom Cruise thriller "Collateral" has left the project in favour of Oliver Stone 's "Alexander". Although Kilmer had been in negotiations to star for Mann, his role in Intermedia's Alexander the Great project, which is filming, left him unable to do both projects at the same time. The role he was to have played in "Collateral" is open.

22nd September 2003: Shooting to begin
Variety reports that shooting begins tomorrow on Oliver Stone's ancient epic, starting with a re-enactment of the Battle of Guagamela in 331 BC which marked Alexander's troops ending the rule of Persia. "I figured that killing somebody right away is a good way to break the ice," Stone says. The fate of Intermedia now rests on this film, the production company spending between $150-200 million on the project making it the largest independent European production ever attempted. Shooting will continue in Morocco through until early November, then will move to London's Pinewood Studios for two months, followed by a short stint in Thailand in January where it will wrap. Of the competing Luhrmann project, which won't turn a first draft in for a few weeks yet, Intermedia man Moritz Borman says "I'm long past caring about them. If Leo wants to play Alexander the Second Great, that's fine, and if somebody figures it is wise to spend $170 million or so to do another picture on Alexander before seeing ours, they should. I've seen stupider decisions". In regards to the bisexual aspect Stone says "We won't overplay his sexuality or underplay it. But it is an important part of Alexander, a part of his life" whilst Borman hints at nothing controversial - "It is a minor aspect. I told Warner Bros., 'There's nothing you wouldn't see on 'Will & Grace'". The two are also happy that "Troy" next Summer will serve as a precursor of sorts to their film when it opens on Thanksgiving.

9th September 2003: Val Kilmer to play King Philip
Variety reports that Val Kilmer is set to reteam with Oliver Stone for this biopic, playing Macedonian King Philip - father to Alexander (Colin Farrell). Shooting begins November 10th in Morocco and will wrap in January in Thailand.

8th September 2003: Scott earns his porridge
PORRIDGE hunk Rory McCann is being paid $1million to star as Alexander The Great's right-hand man in Oliver Stone's new epic. The strapping 6ft 6in Scots actor was cast after the director spotted him stripped to his vest in a TV ad for Scott's Porridge Oats. Rory will be working alongside Irish star Colin Farrell, who will play the great warrior, Angelina Jolie who plays Alexander's mum, Jared Leto and Sir Anthony Hopkins. Rory starred in Channel 4's The Book Group as wheelchair-bound Kenny. Stone is responsible for classics like The Doors, JFK and Nixon. His movie, called simply Alexander, is one of two blockbusters about the conqueror out next year. Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann's Alexander The Great stars Leonardo Di Caprio. Rory is undergoing intensive training in a Moroccan boot camp alongside Farrell to get in shape for the film. His agent Christian Hodell said: "It is a massive breakthrough for him.'' Both films will focus on his rampant sex life of the Greek-Macedonian warrior, who conquered much of the ancient world by the age of 28 and died aged 33.

1st August 2003: Angelina Jolie and Colin Farrell only share one scene
Angelina Jolie and Colin Farrell will only appear in one scene together. "It's kind of a cruel twist of fate," Farrell says of the casting. "I'm getting to work with Angelina, and she's playing my mother. I've only got one scene with her where I'm 18, so I've got to make sure I get a good night of sleep so I have no bags". Angelina is 28 and Colin is 27 so being his mother when he is older is not a realistic possibility.

30th July 2003: Colin Farrell sore from riding
Preparation for his current film role has left Hollywood badboy Colin Farrell with severe pain in his pants. The Irish star was getting into character for his role as historical legend Alexander The Great, and injured his groin while honing his bareback horse-riding skills. Colin groans, "I had to ride bareback, which is something I haven't done before. It's a pain in the b*****ks, literally a pain in the balls. "I have a really sore scrotum. They had nothing in those days so we have had to do the same. And that means no saddles or stirrups."

30th July 2003: Jared Leto to play Alexander's lover Hephaestion
Jared Leto, who starred in Panic Room, has joined the cast of Oliver Stone's Alexander. Leto will play Hephaestion, Alexander's top general and his lifelong companion. The role was originally offered to Brad Pitt but apparently wife Jennifer Aniston made him turn it down as she didn’t think it would be good for his image.

28th July 2003: Rosario Dawson to play Roxane
Rosario Dawson, who appeared alongside Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in Men In Black II, has signed on to join the cast of Alexander. Dawson will play Roxanne, who was Alexander the Great's first wife.

22nd July 2003: Angelina Jolie joins the cast
Variety reports that Angelina Jolie has signed on to join Colin Farrell in Alexander. In the film, which will be directed by Oliver Stone, Jolie will play Olympias, Alexander's mother from his childhood through his reign as the king.

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